Despite loving to sleep in, I always book the early flights. My thinking goes like this: The earlier I get up, the more tired I’ll be and the more I’ll sleep on the flight. So when I’m traveling to the east coast and know I’m going to blow the whole day anyway, I pick the first flight out in the morning. I choose a window seat on the right side of the plane, show up in comfortable clothes and quickly fall asleep for at least the first 2 hours. I don’t sleep well on planes otherwise.

For Knoxville, I chose a 6:10am flight that got in at around 4pm. Tricia, my travel partner, was not excited about getting up at 4am, but I talked her into it my telling her that we’d arrive in time to get some work done and be well rested for the next day of meetings.

So after taking a couple hours to get some work done at the hotel, Tricia and I headed out into Knoxville looking for a place to get some grub. We headed about 15 minutes east to downtown where it was absolutely dead. After catching a drink at a local brewery on Gay st (who says the South doesn’t like gays?) we stopped at a place called Oodles in Market Square. The food was good and we shared some outdoorsy conversation with our thick bearded bartender who told us he was about to go on a 6 month solo hike of the Pacific Coast Trail.

While our bartender was interesting, we were craving a little more excitement. So we stopped at the first place that had a lot of cars parked outside: Michael’s. The sign out front promised Karaoke. The entertainment was destined to be better than the Applebee’s down the street. We later learned that Michael’s was also nicknamed the ‘Coke and Poke’ and the running joke was that the cover charge was two divorces.

ANYWAY, when we walked in there was a guy that must have been 55 up at the bar singing. BUT, he was really good! Then, the next guy that got up with a bigger black guy. He was also REALLY good. Tricia and I remembered a similar instance in NY when it started this way but then fell apart 6 or 7 singers in and when the cowboy got up to sing ’99 Red Balloons’ we thought we’d seen the best. But no, singer after singer afterwards got up and belted out amazing renditions of, well, I don’t remember, but I remember them being good singers. The only one who was not good was a middle age Asian guy that got up to sing and decided that it would be best to keep his Bluetooth headset in for the song. In fact, he did this twice. It was his birthday and he was sitting alone. Apparently, that special someone might call at any moment and he wasn’t going to let his performance get in the way of taking the call. Sadly, the call never came. Everyone snickered while he sang.

When we mentioned to somebody how good they were, they asked where we were from. Well, they most have thought A&R reps from Seattle scout karaoke joints in the south because the next thing we knew people were coming up to us and asking us to take their CDs and giving us their website addresses. We listened to one of these CDS on the way home.

It was bad. Real bad.